Should we ban mobile phones from training courses and meetings?

July 2017

A slightly different perspective on the use of mobile phones in the context of business meetings – and I’m putting training courses in the same bracket as meetings for the purposes of this post – was offered by Simon Sinek in his inspirational video interview on “Millennials in the Workplace”, which is where the above extract comes from. (If you have time, watch the full 15 minute interview, I’m sure it will give you plenty of other things to think about too, and it doesn’t just relate to millennials.) Here he suggests that when people don’t have their phones, they’re more likely to interact with others on a personal level, and develop the social skills necessary to deal with real everyday “unfiltered” life. Now there’s a thought.

I’ll probably regret raising this one as so much has been said about it in so many different contexts, and I know that feelings run high on both sides of the argument. For me it comes down to a simple matter of courtesy: if you’re using your phone to communicate with others whilst in a face-to-face encounter with me, then what you’re really saying is that you’d probably rather be somewhere else, and that others are fulfilling your need for attention in ways that I’m not managing to. Maybe I should interpret it as useful feedback instead of feeling offended by it. But if you were talking to me and I suddenly turned my back on you in mid-sentence and began a conversation with someone else, wouldn’t you feel ever-so-slightly offended? How is sending a text message or updating your social media status any different?

Or maybe you’re just telling all your followers about what a great training course this is and I should be grateful to you for spreading the word!

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